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The Best Caliber for Long Range: .300 Win Mag - Source: Firearms News 

Comprehensive Ballistic Specifications of Popular Rifle Cartridges

In the realm of shooting sports, hunting, and military applications, the choice of rifle cartridge plays a pivotal role. Different cartridges are designed for various purposes, from long-range precision shooting to big game hunting or even casual plinking. This article offers a comparative analysis of some of the most prominent rifle cartridges, shedding light on their ballistic specifications and performance metrics.

Understanding the Basics

Before diving into specifics, it's essential to understand some basic terminologies:
- Bullet Diameter: The diameter of the projectile, typically measured in inches or millimeters.
- Case Length: The length of the cartridge case, excluding the bullet.
- Bullet Weight: The weight of the bullet, usually measured in grains (gr).
- Muzzle Velocity: The speed of the bullet as it exits the muzzle, typically measured in feet per second (fps).
- Max Pressure: The maximum average pressure that a cartridge is rated for, typically measured in pounds per square inch (psi).
- Effective Range: An approximate range within which the bullet maintains its accuracy and lethality.

Cartridge Highlights

1. .223 Remington A popular choice for varmint hunting, target shooting, and tactical applications. It's known for its relatively flat trajectory and lower recoil, making it a preferred option for many semi-automatic rifles.

2. .308 Winchester A versatile round often chosen for hunting medium to large game. It also has a storied history in military and tactical applications.

3. .30-06 Springfield One of the most iconic American cartridges, it's been a hunter's favorite for over a century, suitable for various game from deer to elk.

4. .270 Winchester Optimized for long-range performance, the .270 offers a flat trajectory and is especially favored by deer hunters.

5. 6.5 Creedmoor A relatively recent addition to the market, it has gained immense popularity in long-range shooting competitions due to its impressive accuracy and manageable recoil.

6. .22 Long Rifle An affordable and ubiquitous cartridge, the .22LR is perfect for beginners, small game hunting, and recreational shooting.

7. .243 Winchester A versatile cartridge that's great for younger shooters due to its reduced recoil. It's effective both for varmints and medium-sized game.

8. 7mm Remington Magnum & .300 Winchester Magnum Both are magnum rounds known for their long-range capabilities, often chosen by hunters pursuing larger game in challenging terrains.

9. .338 Lapua Magnum
Developed for military long-range snipers, this cartridge has also found its place among civilian long-range shooting enthusiasts.

Ballistic Specs

Cartridge Bullet Diameter (in) Case Length (in) Typical Bullet Weight (gr) Approx. Muzzle Velocity (fps) Max Pressure (psi) Effective Range (yards)

.223 Remington

0.224 1.76 55-77 2700-3200 55,000 500

.308 Winchester

0.308 2.015 147-180 2400-2800 62,000 800

.30-06 Springfield

0.308 2.494 150-220 2700-2900 60,200 800

.270 Winchester

0.277 2.540 130-150 2850-3100 65,000 600

6.5 Creedmoor

0.264 1.920 120-143 2600-2900 63,000 1000

7mm Remington Magnum

0.284 2.500 139-175 2800-3200 61,000 900

.300 Winchester Magnum

0.308 2.620 150-230 2600-3300 64,000 1000

.22 Long Rifle

0.223 0.613 36-40 1150-1400 24,000 150

.243 Winchester

0.243 2.045 55-115 3000-3200 60,000 600

.338 Lapua Magnum

0.338 2.724 200-300 2700-3000 65,000 1750

Most popular cartridges based on different criteria 

Popular Rifle Cartridges
Rank By Online Search Trends (2023) By Commonality in Bolt-Action Rifles (2023) By Preferences in Custom Hunting Rifles (2023) By Online Ammo Sales (2023) By USA Rifle Sales (2021-2022)
1 22LR 308 Winchester 6.5 PRC 22LR 6.5 Creedmoor
2 223 Remington 6.5 Creedmoor 300 PRC 223 Remington 22LR
3 6.5 Creedmoor 300 Winchester Magnum 28 Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor 6.5 PRC
4 450 Bushmaster 30-06 Springfield 6.5 Creedmoor 300 Blackout 30-06 Springfield
5 308 Winchester 450 Bushmaster 300 Win Mag 450 Bushmaster 300 Win Mag
6 30-06 Springfield 243 Winchester 7mm Rem Mag 30-06 Springfield 308 Winchester
7 300 Win Mag 270 Winchester 300 Win Mag 6.8 Western

The world of rifle cartridges is vast and varied. The best cartridge for an individual depends on their intended use, personal preferences, and specific requirements. Whether you're looking for range, accuracy, or stopping power, there's a cartridge tailored for every need. Always remember, however, that the shooter's skill plays an equally, if not more crucial, role than the cartridge in ensuring accurate and effective shots.

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